In your opinion, what’s the reason why I’ve chosen precisely you as parts to confront?

Toon:
Easy, because we are both amazing be it in a completely different way. Kuboraum and theo are clearly two brands with a strong identity at opposite parts of the spectrum. We both make frames and you can recognise the signature from far away. On top of that we both have very strong teams that support us and – of course – incredible owners. ☺
But from what I remember, we are better at holding our beer…? Guys?

Sergio & Livio:
Probably it would be the right concept for an optical store: half of the store dedicated to Theo and the other half dedicated to Kuboraum: the name of the store could be:
“EYE LEARN ABOUT MYSELF EVERYDAY”.

What do you envy one of the other and what you don’t?

Toon:
The way they talk! English ‘alla mama’. We are absolutely envious of that sunny Italian-flavoured accent. And we secretly admire the way they built an incredibly strong brand in such a short time. The first collection of Kuboraum we thought was amazing.
Nobody had ever done what they did then. They sowed very strong designs and frames and we absolutely fell in love the first time we saw them. The power, the creativity, the human touch, the extremely heavy look… It was mind-blowing.

At the same time, however, we were a little worried that they would be stuck in that rut. That they would keep on repeating that same idea. So today it is not difficult to admit our equal parts of envy and deep respect for what they’ve done since. They built a brand that continues to amaze and they keep coming up with new ideas and (almost impossible) stronger designs all the time. The direction they chose with the way they use metal is courageous and powerful. They are here to stay and, most importantly, they keep creating value for their opticians.

As to what we envy less… Their new booth is a missed opportunity, we feel. It used to be open and accessible with their name clearly visible. It radiated brand awareness. The new version is much more closed off and less recognisably Kuboraum we think. Oh, and one more thing… Did we mention we would love some colour?from our competition and in turn help our clients do the same in their community. I came up with the name when I was 16, and I loved it, as it’s not only a palindrome but all the letters have straight lines, making it both visually pleasing with a very clean cut and memorable sound.

Sergio & Livio:
There is no envy when there is mutual respect and deep esteem of one another. Theo is a reason for us to keep doing our way and investigate ourselves in our research: to keep pushing the boundaries. 
Until Theo is there, we will be there too, because it means there are people who like to express themselves, to tell something about themselves, people who have an opinion about themselves.
Love you all.

Concerning our booth, we love to dedicate ourselves and all our team to the people we meet in our space. Privacy is something fundamental in our daily life as in our daily work. We don’t feel to be there to sell products rather than to share a life style and the products are the medium.
We believe that with our project we speak infinite languages and we love to experiment several different concepts. Who comes to our booth knows that it will be an experience every time and anytime different. We deeply love our space because it reminds us our city: Berlin isn’t beauty itself, but it is as an art gallery… and we have more than 180 of them in town!). It’s a container of beauty!
Regarding colors it’s years we do them: do you know all those transparent which go from champagne to mint, lately to fuchsia, acid green you can find today in many collections? We launched them or re-launched as you like.

What do you think of the existing situation in this sector, where more and more companies are copying other people’s projects?

Mik:
Would you call it copying? I don’t really see it that way. I feel the world is shrinking and the playground is becoming more crowded every day. Never before have there been more companies in the eyewear industry. I don’t think there is more copying than before… I think there are just more companies around that are inspired by the latest trends and ride the fashion wave of the moment. So you see the same ideas or very similar ones pop up from all sides. What is successful will always be replicated. What can we say. And, to be honest, from a start-up’s perspective I can see the reasoning! Most likely they don’t have the financial stability to miss their start, so…

Toon:
Our father taught us one very important thing: “to surprise your customers every time you open the tray.” So in reality it doesn’t really affect us as you have to reinvent yourself every single time. You have to find fresh designs, novel materials, different shapes. New, new, new… I cannot count the times we had a successful eyewear family for which it would have been sooo easy to design a few new shapes and be successful. Instead we have almost always decided to move on to something new. Missed opportunity?  Maybe… we’ll never know.

Mik:
Correct! Nevertheless, those who consider themselves to be real designers shouldn’t make it too easy and evolve all the time. It builds up and reinforces their brand identity; exactly what others might be missing. The rules have changed. Cry or deal with it, I say.

Sergio & Livio:
We think that, in our days, everyone should be more responsible, buy with consciousness and buy less. Consumerism has arrived to its end and, in the same way, has our society. Humanity is not needed on this planet, as well as our luxury industry, that’s why we should all feel blessed to have the possibility to be part of this system and, at the same time, we should pay back with real contents: concept, design, innovation, technology, marketing, image. We should take this opportunity to make something new, to give something back to society instead of only taking.

At Kuboraum, for anything we do, we are never asking if it will sell or not, we are always asking if it’s right. The other question is “What are we giving? What are the people experiencing?”
We know we have seen the eyewear world from another point of view, we have done everything in the opposite way, we are glad that many brands tried to do the same following our good example.

What would you like to tell these people?

Toon:
Not much. I guess there will always be customers for trend-following, me-too products that look like the next version of themselves. To each his own. Still, it makes me wonder about their long-term strategy. Our business goal is to be around for years because we keep surprising and enticing our customers, in new and different ways…
Our ‘why’ has never been the money but the smile.

Mik:
I would tell them to enjoy the ride and make sure they are one of the first to surf that next, big wave. And meanwhile not to forget to create an individual, unique style and image.

Sergio & Livio:
It’s all about INTEGRITY, today everyone should understand the lesson that it’s not only about business.There is no excuse for brands without integrity which, in a way or another, steal from the others. No excuse for copying and pasting design, image, brand identity, manifesto of communication; no excuse for all the brands which reproduce models of other brands just one or a few seasons after. All those brands create only aesthetic and conceptual pollution, and we must ask the same kind of integrity to all the buyers and opticians.

When we are talking about brands which copy without any respect of us, but especially of themselves, the problem are not so much those brands, the real problem are stores who buy those brands. We believe we should stop with the idea that everyone can own everything. It’s important that, when a buyer can’t have a brand, he should never take the copy of it because this undermines his integrity and we have no words for the buyers who are able to carry a brand and its copy in the same store.

Buyers must understand that they have a big responsibility and they should take it for the development of our society. The fairs should start to make a selection again and stop being only temporary rental spaces for companies until they’ll completely lose their importance and their job. To be able to imagine, plan and design the future is a luxurious position compared to the one of those who can’t because they are struggling to live the present. Everyone should take action and not waste this opportunity.
We would like to finish with the title of an album by Croatian Amor: LOVE MEANS TAKING AN ACTION.

In the face of a reality in which mass distribution contaminates the world, how could we counter? What to answer to those who claim, considering figures, that the world of independent has no sense?

Toon:
We don’t counter, full stop. There is absolutely no reason why we should. Mass production, as the word suggests, is for the masses. But there are and always will be people that want to stand out, that want to be different. Individuals who are independent and want to be crazy, be foolish, be unique, be amazing, be themselves… For those people we do what we do, and we love it.

Mik:
Independence is everything. Without it, what’s left really? There’s only one thing you can do: smash that ‘stop-the-world-turning’ button. Of course there is mass consumption, mass production and mass distribution; but only if there’s also the individual.
We always compare theo to an Asterix & Obelix comic: “The year is A.D. 2019. The world is entirely occupied by the mass distribution legion. Well not entirely! One small village of indomitable Belgians still holds out against the invaders. And life is not easy for the Mass legionaries who garrison the fortified camps of Antverpia…” In short: it’s our customers and us against the Roman Empire. Bring it on; life is beautiful, by Toutatis!

Sergio & Livio:
In a talk between Andy Warhol and Bruno Bischofberger: B.B. suggested A.W. to paint a picture of Einstein; 
A.W. answered him that it was a good idea, but that he preferred to paint Mao. When B.B. asked A.W. the reason why he would like to paint Mao, A.W. replied using those words: “because Mao is the most famous person in the world!” 
Everything is relative. Which world?
Cristina, in our world we never met those people who say that “the world of independent has no sense”.
We have our own dimension, it’s not so small and we feel comfortable with it, there is a lot of space, fresh air, beautiful characters, always something new, something interesting, something never seen before, art, music,
tra la la la la la!

When we are talking about brands which copy without any respect of us, but especially of themselves, the problem are not so much those brands, the real problem are stores who buy those brands. We believe we should stop with the idea that everyone can own everything. It’s important that, when a buyer can’t have a brand, he should never take the copy of it because this undermines his integrity and we have no words for the buyers who are able to carry a brand and its copy in the same store.

Buyers must understand that they have a big responsibility and they should take it for the development of our society. The fairs should start to make a selection again and stop being only temporary rental spaces for companies until they’ll completely lose their importance and their job. To be able to imagine, plan and design the future is a luxurious position compared to the one of those who can’t because they are struggling to live the present. Everyone should take action and not waste this opportunity.
We would like to finish with the title of an album by Croatian Amor: LOVE MEANS TAKING AN ACTION.

Your answer to the indecent proposal: “Would you sell your companies”?

Toon:
I think anybody receiving an “indecent” proposal will always stop and think. Twice, even thrice. But today my brothers and I are still very young with quite some years ahead of us, we hope. We figure there is still quite some potential to grow.  And we don’t see what we do as work. We do what we love…  and the return that we get back from the customers is so huge, that we have absolutely 0% intention to sell…  Our father entrusted us his love baby and we want to raise it the way we see fit.

Mik:
Yes! Of course!! And then we start our own intercontinental cycling team like Jim Ratcliffe and travel the world to ride our bicycles. But… then there’s our mission together with all the independent opticians around the world: stand out of the crowd, defend the village, fight the Romans and create smiles. It’s not accomplished yet, and it never will be. Luckily it’s what we love to do most.

Sergio & Livio:
We like to live the present planning the future counting on what’s in our hands right now; when it’s about our work we are not fan of digital printing, rendering or virtual reality.

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